Daimler Trucks to jump directly to hydrogen, electric vehicles from diesel | The Financial Express

Daimler Trucks to jump directly to hydrogen, electric vehicles from diesel

Commercial vehicle makers have reported demand switching back to diesel when the government increased prices of CNG.

Daimler Trucks to jump directly to hydrogen, electric vehicles from diesel
Daimler officials further said the company would launch 10 new BharatBenz trucks with varying gross vehicle weights, including a first-in-India 38-tonne truck.

Amid the constant increase in gas prices coupled with the high CO2 levels of the fuel, Daimler Trucks, the world’s largest truck maker, will avoid the compressed natural gas (CNG) segment and directly shift to hydrogen and electric solutions for the Indian market.

The electric solution will most likely address the small truck segment that can be put to intra-city use, while hydrogen can address the long-haul, heavy-duty usage segment.

Senior management, including Martin Daum, chairman of the board of management of Daimler Truck, are in India to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the local subsidiary Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV).

“We believe diesel at least has 10 years of life if not 15, and therefore we will continue to invest in that technology. We are also working on battery electric in a step-by-step manner and on hydrogen technology,” Daum said to a select group of journalists on Wednesday.

Unlike its competition, including commercial vehicle market leader Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland, Daimler is not betting on CNG. Tata Motors launched five new trucks last month powered by CNG, while Ashok Leyland has committed to introduce new variants of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and CNG trucks in haulage, tipper and tractor segments this year.

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Daimler believes “CNG is not as green as it is made out to be”. “Natural gas emits CO2 as much as diesel. I never understood how the natural gas lobby was able to paint their fuel green. We will focus on diesel, fuel cell and battery electric,” Daum said.

Demand moved in favour of CNG-powered commercial vehicles as long as their pricing gap with diesel made them economically viable. Commercial vehicle makers have reported demand switching back to diesel when the government increased prices of CNG.

Daimler could address the small truck segment up to 3.5 tonne with electric drivetrain, though it does not have a ready product in that segment as of now. With limited intra-city usage, the small truck segment is predicted to switch to electric faster than other CV segments.


For long-haul vehicles, hydrogen is pegged to be a long-term, green energy solution, having zero tailpipe emission. Several large entities in India, including the Adani Group and Reliance Industries, have announced plans to get into hydrogen production. Hydrogen offers greater drive range and faster refuelling, leading to better uptime for trucks compared to electric.

Since its entry into India, DICV has sold more than 140,000 trucks and buses and exported more than 60,000 trucks to over 60 countries. Its market share in India at the end of 2021 stood at 7% with sales of 14,200. The company is present only in the medium and heavy truck and bus segments.

“We thought the market for sophisticated trucks would grow much faster. But it didn’t. It is far behind initial estimates and we have seen very slow growth in that space. We would have sold many more trucks if it were not for the semiconductor shortages,” Daum said.

Daimler officials further said the company would launch 10 new BharatBenz trucks with varying gross vehicle weights, including a first-in-India 38-tonne truck.

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First published on: 14-10-2022 at 00:30 IST